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April 17, 2014

'The Office' Season 7, Episode 23 Recap

by Joel Keller, posted May 13th 2011 12:00AM
Rainn Wilson of 'The Office'['The Office' - 'Dwight K. Schrute, (Acting) Manager']

When I spoke to Paul Lieberstein earlier this week, I told him that, from what I had seen in this episode's previews, it reminded me of when Frank Burns took over the 4077th in a couple of episodes of 'M*A*S*H.'

Of course, Lieberstein knew exactly what I was talking about, despite the age of the reference, and he laughed heartily. "I was a big 'M*A*S*H' fan, I and I liked it when Frank ran things for a little while," he said.

"I felt like, you want to see what it's like. There's so much promise in the air of what Dwight would do, so many threats over the years, and he wanted it so bad." When I asked if we were going to see any new shades to Dwight in this episode, he flat out said with a chuckle, "No."

And, boy we didn't see any shades at all. It was full-on, maximum-strength Dwight. But the surprising thing about this episode -- and what made me enjoy it a lot -- was that we didn't spend the entire half-hour watching Dwight make everyone's lives miserable. In fact, the ending was interesting, considering what it means for the future of the series.

Sure, we saw plenty of scenes of Dwight being Dwight, but with power: 21-digit copier codes. Salaried employees punching a time clock that looked like it was last used in the '70s ("With a slot just big enough for a finger," said Jim). The Pledge of Allegiance every morning. The food in the vending machine replaced by ads telling people to go to Dwight's cafe/guard station downstairs. The blocking of every website that someone would consider "fun," including Oscar's favorite, WebMD. The disabling of voicemail, because, as Erin put it, "Dwight doesn't trust robots to deliver our phone calls."

It was looking like the entire episode was going to be about Dwight's tyrannical reign and Jim's attempts at revolution via his "social group" that just happened to be called "The Fist." Then Dwight got a holster, and decided to fill it with his conversation-piece gun he brought out just to kiss up to Jo. Then everything change. He accidentally shot a hole in the floor, like everyone figured he would, and blew out Andy's eardrum. From then on, the episode was about what the office could get from Dwight in exchange for their silence.

A refreshing angle, right? Sure, the setup was a bit silly, but considering how much of a drag watching an unfettered Dwight running roughshod over the office was going to be, the direction it ended up going in lightened things up quite a bit. Who didn't want to see Dwight give Kevin that back rub, requiring a climb up a file a cabinet and including an exclamation of how moist his back is?



I wanted to see more of what Jim demanded, as there was only one incident of jazz hands. It would have been fun to see an episode of Dwight being subservient to everyone in the office, but it was not to be, as Dwight turned himself in rather than give into the blackmail.

The story also gave me faith that Lieberstein and company might actually do a credible job of exploring the other folks in the office now that the show's dominant force, Michael, is gone. That feeling could erode again by the finale, but at least I'm feeling OK about it now, especially after the conversation I had with Lieberstein.

But now that Dwight has been banished back to his sales desk by Jo, who rightly said that "shooting is much worse" than being blackmailed about it, does that preclude him from ever becoming manager again? It was just a one-episode exploration and that's it? It feels like Dwight as a character deserved more than one episode to get the job he always wanted... "Manager of Dunder Mifflin's Scranton branch... well, Acting Manager." I mean, he didn't bring in the rescue piranha and get a replica of Uday Hussein's desk to just be there a week.

The biggest laugh of the night, though? When Jo told her search committee (Gabe, Jim, Andy) they needed a new interim manager, they decided to go with the most senior office member. And, after Jim told Dwight that, despite everything, the office ran well with him as manager, the site of Creed sitting behind the Uday desk was hilarious. They're pretty much back to being unsupervised at this point....

More fun stuff:
-- The Gabe/Erin/Andy story was a bit of a drag, only because watching Gabe sob was kinda pathetic. It was interesting to see how quickly Erin ran to Andy after the shot went off and after he got back from the hospital. So Andy can say he is or isn't ever going to date Erin all he wants; you know these two kids are going to get back together.

-- Too bad they never shot a scene of Kelly at her 'American Idol' audition. Maybe Jennifer Lopez balked at appearing.

-- The intro had Dwight straightening one of his samurai figurines light Michael adjusted his Dundie. I guess that's going to be the running joke until they find a new boss.

-- The snarky Jim of old is coming back. "Unless you're prison inmate or a child, it turns out people can work while unsupervised." But as soon as he got off the phone with Jo and Dwight's phone immediately rang, he knew he has made a huge mistake.

-- "Mose, guess where I am right now..." Considering he was in the credits, I'm guessing Mike Schur was the one screaming with joy on the other end of that phone.

-- Jordan is still there. Not sure what her role is around the office, but it'll be fun to find out.

'The Office' airs Thursdays at 9PM ET on NBC.

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Watch the full episode here:

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Katie S

It reads like a super cliche, but nothing I've seen on television in many MANY seasons has made me double over in laughter harder than watching Dwight give Kevin that sweaty back massage. It's not leaving my Tivo anytime soon, and I now have some hope for the future of this show

May 14 2011 at 1:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
skelmorales@gmail.com

one thing were did deangelo go did he get fired or did he just couldn't do the job

May 13 2011 at 7:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to skelmorales@gmail.com's comment
Joel

He was in a coma. Tough to manage an office when you're unconscious.

May 14 2011 at 12:37 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Mark

Loved this episode. Funniest of season so far. Of course Dwight would hang an oil painting of himself in office. Brilliant. I want that painting!

May 13 2011 at 1:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Mark's comment
Ba Ba Bauf

That painting goes right on the "Wall of Fame" alongside the "Portrait of Kramer" from "Seinfeld".

May 13 2011 at 6:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ba Ba Bauf

Hillarious Episode, and hopefully a sign of great things to come!

Dwight massaging Kevin, doing "Jazz Hands", and putting a Pihranna in the toilet for Kevin to find when he sat down to, well, anyway, just great, great stuff!

I think it was important to do an eipsode like this, addressing Dwight's long-standing desire to run the office, because, obviously, with Michael leaving, everyone wants to know who the new boss will be. Obviously, Dwight could never be the real manager, because no one in the office has any respect for his managerial skills. Say what you will about Michael, but he was always very good at his job (except for the "Golden Ticket" fiasco), and Dwight just doesn't have the people-skills to be a manager. Stilll, it was important to at least give Dwight a chance to blow the job for himself, which, of course, he did.

I was also glad that Jim didn't take the job, because when he was Co-Regional Manager he was really boring.

As for Gabe, well, wow, Erin really messed him up. I mean, yeah, it was brutal how she dumped him in public at the Dundee Awards, but he has just gone off a cliff since then. Now he's reduced to sobbing and begging Andy not to go after Erin? Really pathetic. Oh, and what, exactly, is Gabe's job at Dunder Mifflin? He's not the manager, nor is he a salesman, nor is he in human resources. Is he simply a liason between Jo and the office? Doesn't seem like much of a job.

Honestly, though, I laughed out loud several times during this episode, and that tells me the writers are more than up to the task of keeping this show going without Steve Carrell. The ensamble cast is very strong.

I'm actually not that excited about all the guest-stars in next week's season finale, as I would much prefer more of just the core office crew, and one-and-done stunt-casting has never really been all that appealing to me. I'm not all that interested in upcoming job interviews with Jim Carrey, Ray Romano, James Spader, Willl Arnett, etc.

I am, however, very interested in seeing Ricky Gervais reprise his role of "David Brent" as an applicant for the manager-job. Yes, I know Ricky Gervais will never commit to joining the show full time, as he has never done more than, like 12 episodes of any series he's ever been on, but hey, a guy can dream, right? David Brent as the new boss would keep this show on the air for another 5-7 years. Oh well.

May 13 2011 at 3:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Ba Ba Bauf's comment
sushiday

Oh man, that piranha in the toilet! Kevin running out of the bathroom holding up his pants almost had me in tears!

May 17 2011 at 12:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rl

I believe the phone call to Mose and the scream from the other end is a reference to Working Girl.

May 13 2011 at 2:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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